Nowadays, armed self defense often involves a citizen using their firearm to stop a violent criminal, rather than an attacking animal. However attacks by animals remain a real concern, regardless of where one lives. A few examples illustrate this point:
Rosie Humphries was walking her dog near her Flora, IL home when a pit bull approached them and attacked. Both Humphries and her dog were killed. The attacking dog was eventually restrained by its owner and the police, then taken away by animal control.
Agneta Westlund was walking her dog near Loftahammer, Sweeden when an elk mauled her to death. Police immediately arrested her husband on suspicion of murder, but released him ten days later when forensic evidence showed elk hair and saliva on his deceased wife’s body.
A Naples, FL father and daughter were walking their Jack Russell terrier when a neighbor’s bull dog attacked. The Jack Russell terrier was killed, and the father and daughter were both injured.
Turning to the effectiveness of armed self defense against animal attack, these cases are informative:
Greg Brush was a quarter mile from his Soldotna, AL home, walking his three dogs. He heard a noise and looked over his shoulder to find a bear about 20 yards away. As the 900 pound bear charged him Greg drew his revolver and fired two or three shots. The bear dropped to the ground dead just feet from Greg and his dogs.
Richard Volmering, of Harbor Beach, MI, had his 2 year old son Luke in the back yard. As his son was feeding the family dog, a stray dog entered the yard and attacked the child. Luke suffered bits to his head, face, and eye area, which required hospitalization. The same stray dog returned several hours later while another one of Richard’s sons was in the back yard. When Richard heard his other son scream for help, he grabbed his gun and fatally shot the dog when it became aggressive, preventing the dog from harming a second child of his that day.
For most people, attack by a dangerous animal is not in the top 10 risks to their life and safety. However that does not mean that the risk should be ignored. This is especially true since the same gun suitable for self defense against violent criminals can also be used to defend against attack by many smaller animals (although I certainly wouldn’t trust my .40 S&W pistol to stop a 900 lb. bear). Remember, it is far better to have a self defense gun and never need it, than to need a self defense gun and not have it.
Note: As someone who loves animals, especially dogs, I know that the vast majority of them are good-natured and pose no threat to humans. I also know that there is no such thing as a “dangerous” breed of dog, and that when a dog attacks a human it is generally the end result of abuse that the dog suffered at the hands of a human. As such, having to shoot a dog in self defense would be the last thing I would ever want to do. However, if it came down to protecting myself, my fiancé, or our own pets, I would certainly do so.